Enjoying the Cult Classics Style of Horde Shooter Outer Terror

Welcome to Save State, where we love pulp B-movies and games that utilize their style. Outer Terror was a title that caught my eye due to its Image Comics-style artwork and similarity in presentation to Vampire Survivors, another game mentioned on Save State. A great homage to old school horror media, Outer Terror is a horde shooter that lovingly references things from The Evil Dead, Terminator, and everything in between – so if you couldn’t get enough of the 80s and 90s, this may be the title for you.

Outer Terror, which is available on Steam, presents some brief story bits in comic book format, which is always a nice touch. The motion comic presentation gives you a brief overview of what kind of terrifying creatures lurk about. You’ll get some dialogue from the characters, and then you’ll be dropped right into the action. Outer Terror throws you right into the thick of things, with zombies darting straight at you within seconds, though it’s slow enough at first for you to get acclimated to the very simple controls as you learn the process of kiting the undead around the landscape quickly.

Like other horde shooters, Vampire Survivors or Crimsonland probably being the most popular representations of the genre, Outer Terror chucks enemies at your face, and you’ll level up expediently. Every level you gain grants you new weapons, additional buffs for existing weapons, and a decent variety of items that confer bonuses that help you survive the hordes of night creatures that relentlessly throw themselves at your soft, squishy flesh. You have multiple maps to choose from, each with their own effective story beats for you to experience, to boot.

There’s 10 characters available at the start in Outer Terror, and each has a different character sprite, starting weapon, and ability, which gives you a decent amount of variety when starting a new run. The characters are all different in appearance, from Dollar Store Shaun of the Dead to a killer clown girl. There are also a wide variety of references to B-movie horror from the 80s and 90s, a lot of which you’ll obtain from doing side quests as you fend off waves of ever-increasing undead.

Mechanically, Outer Terror is exactly what you would expect from a horde shooter title. You walk around and the game shoots for you automatically, and as you level up, you’ll acquire new weaponry or abilities that might increase your damage, increase enemy spawn rates, and things of that nature. The controls are incredibly simple, but you will have control over when you activate items you find on the maps, rather than simply using them automatically by walking over them.

While you pursue the stories of the different maps, you’ll encounter side missions you can clear with other survivors. One, for example, may simply have you defend a scientist as he attempts to boot up one of his machines, while another may involve you needing to scour the map in search of fuel or batteries. While clearing various quests, you might find people willing to sell you items that can help you stay in a run longer, too, so it’s pretty valuable to interact with people as you find them.

Lootable containers are effectively the corpses of people who failed to stave off the Lovecraftian hordes, and from those you can obtain EXP boosts, money, health, and a bunch of other bonuses. Cash can be spent for permanent upgrades that can make future runs a bit easier to boot, though the progression is a bit more on the limited side. While you can earn powerful new weapons like a chainsaw, for example, many of them are minor buffs like giving you an additional weapon slot or slightly increasing fire rate.

Outer Terror is lacking in polish in some very minor respects. This is one of those games where you need to fully expect enemies phasing through walls, vehicles, and other objects to get at you, or you may encounter zombies randomly inside of a safe zone even though the title tells you that safe zones are where you’re safe from attack. Fortunately, these aren’t massive, game-breaking bugs, just minor annoyances you may see once or twice. Of course, these issues are likely not super difficult to iron out, as a whole.

The visuals of Outer Terror are a low-fi vibe complete with scanlines, and the character sprites have a nice white outline that helps you differentiate who you’re playing from the swaths of night creatures at a glance. The music is reasonably catchy, though much more subdued when compared to something like Vampire Survivors. The sound design is pretty simple in comparison to the music, so brace yourself to hear a cacophony of the same sound effects repeatedly as you play with little to no variation.

You can play with a friend via cooperative play, which is something that games like Vampire Survivors simply can’t boast about. The simple gameplay loop of Outer Terror is even more enjoyable with a friend, and not many titles in the horde shooter genre have co-op gameplay, which is a real shame since it’s so entertaining to laugh, joke, and make fun of your friends while getting overrun by Cthulhu-lites.

For the most part, Outer Terror is a fantastic throwback to 80s/90s horror movies, and it has some decent variation in the characters and weapons you can use to slash your way through the equivalent of a grindhouse comic flick. The controls are simple and intuitive, visuals and sound design passable, and while this isn’t exactly the kind of title that will revolutionize the genre, the myriad references and horror aesthetic should make this one that fans of 80s/90s horror will enjoy greatly.

With that said, it’s about time we close this entry of Save State and head out on the old, dusty trail. Join us again in a couple weeks with some more forgotten or indie game goodness!

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